Born in Boston, MA in 1951, Howard Emerson’s musical DNA was permanently disarranged upon hearing Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” in 1955 when he was four years old. It would be another eight years before he received his first guitar. Certifiably ADD and dyslexic, lessons were of no use; but with the help of a dozen albums by The Ventures, he practiced, persisted and progressed.
As a table-top drumming, R&B bass-line-loving, anti-social misfit, Howard grokked the basic manual dexterity required for fingerpicking while cutting class (and avoiding the draft) at Berklee School of Music in the fall of 1969. Although his stay was brief, he left armed with fingerpicking firmly in (right) hand; and in short order, he learned open tunings and bottleneck, further broadening his musical palette.
Since 1998, Howard has released four very well received CD's of (mostly) original (primarily) instrumental compositions: “Crossing Crystal Lake” in 1998; “A Tale To Tell” in 2004; “It Ain’t Necessarily So” in 2012; and “The Wall Talks” in May 2017.
About “The Wall Talks,” Minor7th reviewer Mark Bayer said: “‘The Wall Talks’ sets the mood from the starting gate as if the jockey was whipping the beast before the bell rang. ‘Rumble Strut’ demonstrates his ability to immediately showcase what’s to come with smooth southern blues grooves and licks neatly blended together by a player that shows fearless confidence.”
Veteran guitar Journalist Andy Ellis writes: "There are no shortcuts. To play with the kind of relaxed, sure-footed swing and gorgeous tone that permeates 'The Wall Talks,' it takes a lifetime of dedication to guitar. Howard Emerson has made this journey, and you can hear it in every note. His acoustic fingerpicking is sublime, as is his buttery, singing electric slide. Great music from a 6-string master whose skills continue to deepen over time.”
From the Great American Songbook to R&B and R&R, Howard’s self-described east coast fingerstyle gives fresh looks to classics as diverse as Little Willie John’s “Fever,” to George Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” to Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,” and others.
Greg Scholl, director of Jazz At Lincoln Center, said this at the 2004 release party of “A Tale To Tell”: “The reason people are here today is because they appreciate that beneath the sad patina of mediocrity in American culture lurks fresh and striking brilliance, part of a lineage dating back to our country’s awakening as a distinct and wonderful culture in the late 1800s - and that you are firmly and proudly a part of this tradition. Congratulations on creating a truly brilliant, and much needed album."
Howard toured for two years with folk legend Eric Andersen (“Be True To You” on Arista Records), and for 18 months with Billy Joel (“Turnstiles” on Columbia Records).
Howard is a homebody at heart who loves to garden, do cabinetry and woodworking, and cooking.